Dick Jennings has finished the 2013 osprey nest site inventory for the Vineyard. He found 71 breeding pairs, 23 failed nests and even with that, 87 young ospreys fledged. By towns the breakdown is as follows: Aquinnah had two productive nests, Chilmark had 11, Chappaquiddick had seven, Edgartown had eight, Oak Bluffs had seven, Tisbury had nine and West Tisbury had six.
By comparison, in 2012 there were 78 breeding pairs of ospreys, 18 failed nests and 114 young ospreys fledged. Why the difference? Many factors are involved. Two that come to mind this year might be spring storms and cold spring weather and/or late fish migration not matching up to the time the young ospreys have hatched and have to be fed constantly. It was interesting to note that West Tisbury had the highest number of failed nests.
For more information about the osprey work that has been done on the Island, Richard O. Bierregaard, better known as Rob, will make a presentation on his Vineyard osprey research project at the Chappaquiddick Community Center at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, August 2 (that’s tonight if you are reading this in print).
I have received many calls and emails reacting to my statement about the dearth of ruby-throated hummingbirds on certain parts of the Island. Gus Ben David from the World of Reptiles and Birds, called to say he has had fewer hummingbirds than last year, and until very recently the birds would just come to his feeder, take a quick sip of nectar and move off. Now at least one pair is staying and feeding normally. We wonder if there is so much nectar available in the wild that the feeders aren’t necessary. I am going to do some research and report back.
Ed LaPiene reminded us all of the importance of changing the nectar in our hummingbird feeders frequently in hot weather. He was changing his nectar every two to three days during the heat as the nectar would ferment otherwise. Ed also made sure he had ant guards to keep the ants from crawling into the feeder, drowning and polluting the nectar. At my house our worst problem is bees buzzing around the feeder and going into the nectar. We found a man in Arizona who was selling hummingbird feeders with white ports. He found that bees stayed away from white ports on hummingbird feeders.
Tom Rivers reports that he and Barbara have had two pairs of ruby-throated hummingbirds at their Tea Lane home since around the first of April. It is only within the last week (around July 22) that the young hummingbirds have started attending their feeders.
Iris Freeman and Warren Woessner report they have their regular pair of hummingbirds at their Edgartown home.
Jen Coor of Chilmark reports that she has more hummingbirds than usual with five to six females and rarely a male to be seen.
Pete and Cathi Gilmore have one “stable” family of ruby-throated hummingbirds at their West Tisbury feeder.
Nat Woodruff reports that she has a pair of hummingbirds; the male is only present at dawn and dusk.
Martha Moore of the West Tisbury side of Tisbury Great Pond has been seeing up to five hummingbirds at a time.
And in a very interesting email, Sofia Anthony related that she noticed a difference in the hummingbird pattern this year. She said normally a few ruby-throated hummingbirds arrive in the first weeks of June. By late July and August the numbers of hummingbirds increase. This year there were few seen early on but now the numbers are increasing. It must be that the natural nectar sources were better early this year, especially in Sofia’s case as she lives near Mahoney’s nursery.
Warren Woessner found two lesser black-backed gulls at the Katama Airpark on July 25.
Rob Culbert, who birds rain or shine, went out on July 26 in the wind and rain to Norton Point and found herring and lesser and greater black-backed gulls, black skimmers, common, least and roseate terns and several species of shorebirds and sharp-tailed sparrows.
On July 27 Flip Harrington, Lanny McDowell, Pete Gilmore and I joined Warren Woessner on a trip to Norton Point. Our two most interesting sightings were a female northern harrier arriving in the scrub in the northwest corner of Katama Bay with food. Immediately two immature harriers rose up to meet her and grab the food she provided. Further down the beach we were able to spot a young black skimmer and watch four in the air. We counted four sharp-tailed sparrows and a good selection of shorebirds.
A good crew joined me at the Chilmark Community Center on July 30. We went to Red Beach in Lobsterville and spotted eight species of shorebirds including both piping and semipalmated plovers, least and semipalmated sandpipers and ruddy turnstone. Barn, bank and tree swallows were flying overhead and a great egret came in for a landing. A few of us had a fleeting view of a belted kingfisher.
On July 27 Flip Harrington and I spotted a black-crowned night heron, a great blue heron and a belted kingfisher by our house on Tisbury Great Pond. We have three ruby-throated hummingbirds visiting our feeders. Flip spotted a northern gannet and a common loon off Gay Head on July 30.
Report your bird sightings to the Martha’s Vineyard bird hotline at 508-645-2913 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Susan B. Whiting is co-author of Vineyard Birds and Vineyard Birds II. Her website is vineyardbirds2.com.